Keys of Jagannath Temple's ancient treasury go missing

Keys of the inner chambers of the Ratna Bhandar are reportedly missing

Keys of Jagannath Temple's ancient treasury go missing
File photo

Bhubaneswar/Puri: The keys of a crucial treasury chamber Ratna Bhandar of 12-century Jagannath Temple have reportedly gone missing, sparking an intense speculation if the ancient coffers are under threat. Amid protests by the Shankaracharya of Puri, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, and the Bharatiya Janata Party, state Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday ordered a judicial probe into the matter. 

The case of the missing keys of the inner chambers came in to light two months ago, on April 4, during a meeting of the Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee. 

After 34 years, a 16-member team had entered the Ratna Bhandar on April 4 to inspect the physical conditions amid tight security following an order of the Orissa High Court, Ramchandra Das Mahapatra told PTI. The court,  monitoring the repair works undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India in the shrine since 2016, had ordered the ASI to examine the structural stability and safety of the Ratna Bhandar.

However, the team could not enter the inner chambers due to unavailability of keys and inspected the condition through an iron grill from outside with the help of search lights.

Of the seven chambers of the Ratna Bhandar, the first two are outer chambers which were used from time to time, and the others are called inner chambers.

Neither the temple administration nor the Puri district treasury has the key of the inner treasury, said Mahapatra.

Both the Shankaracharya of Puri and the BJP have sought a clarification from Odisha Chief Minister on the issue.

"The chief minister should give a clarification on how the key of the temple's inner treasury went missing and who is responsible for it," state BJP spokesman Pitambar Acharya told reporters.

Activists of outfits such as the Jagannath Sena and the Sachetana Nagarik Manch demonstrated near the Shree Jagannath temple in Puri.

With PTI inputs